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Author Archive: "Simon Kuper"

Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer during Europe’s Darkest Hour

I am not Dutch, but when I was six years old my Dad took a job in the small town of Leiden, and so I spent most of my school years in the Netherlands. I grew up on Dutch Resistance stories. Even in the '70s and '80s, World War II seemed to be all around us. I played soccer and cricket with a gangling, friendly boy whose grandfather, proprietor of a cigar shop, had run the local Resistance. At school I was fed the prevalent Dutch myth of the day: that the Dutch had been "goed" (good) in the war. When they weren't sending Germans the wrong way to the station, they were bringing food to hidden Jews. These were the stories I imbibed until I left the country in 1986.

In adulthood I began writing a book about the Dutch war — a book that I first completed in Dutch in 2000 and later rewrote in English for a British publisher in 2003, and which is now being published in the U.S. for the first time as Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer ...


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